State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_7B > GS_7B-2902

§ 7B‑2902.  Disclosurein child fatality or near fatality cases.

(a)        The followingdefinitions apply in this section:

(1)        Child fatality. –The death of a child from suspected abuse, neglect, or maltreatment.

(2)        Findings andinformation. – A written summary, as allowed by subsections (c) through (f) ofthis section, of actions taken or services rendered by a public agencyfollowing receipt of information that a child might be in need of protection.The written summary shall include any of the following information the agencyis able to provide:

a.         The dates, outcomes,and results of any actions taken or services rendered.

b.         The results of anyreview by the State Child Fatality Prevention Team, a local child fatalityprevention team, a local community child protection team, the Child FatalityTask Force, or any public agency.

c.         Confirmation of thereceipt of all reports, accepted or not accepted by the county department ofsocial services, for investigation of suspected child abuse, neglect, ormaltreatment, including confirmation that investigations were conducted, theresults of the investigations, a description of the conduct of the most recentinvestigation and the services rendered, and a statement of basis for thedepartment's decision.

(3)        Near fatality. – Acase in which a physician determines that a child is in serious or criticalcondition as the result of sickness or injury caused by suspected abuse,neglect, or maltreatment.

(4)        Public agency. – Anyagency of State government or its subdivisions as defined in G.S. 132‑1(a).

(b)        Notwithstanding anyother provision of law and subject to the provisions of subsections (c) through(f) of this section, a public agency shall disclose to the public, uponrequest, the findings and information related to a child fatality or nearfatality if:

(1)        A person iscriminally charged with having caused the child fatality or near fatality; or

(2)        The districtattorney has certified that a person would be charged with having caused thechild fatality or near fatality but for that person's prior death.

(c)        Nothing hereinshall be deemed to authorize access to the confidential records in the custodyof a public agency, or the disclosure to the public of the substance or contentof any psychiatric, psychological, or therapeutic evaluations or like materialsor information pertaining to the child or the child's family unless directlyrelated to the cause of the child fatality or near fatality, or the disclosureof information that would reveal the identities of persons who providedinformation related to the suspected abuse, neglect, or maltreatment of thechild.

(d)        Within five workingdays from the receipt of a request for findings and information related to achild fatality or near fatality, a public agency shall consult with theappropriate district attorney and provide the findings and information unlessthe agency has a reasonable belief that release of the information:

(1)        Is not authorized bysubsections (a) and (b) of this section;

(2)        Is likely to causemental or physical harm or danger to a minor child residing in the deceased orinjured child's household;

(3)        Is likely tojeopardize the State's ability to prosecute the defendant;

(4)        Is likely tojeopardize the defendant's right to a fair trial;

(5)        Is likely to underminean ongoing or future criminal investigation; or

(6)        Is not authorized byfederal law and regulations.

(e)        Any person whoserequest is denied may apply to the appropriate superior court for an ordercompelling disclosure of the findings and information of the public agency. Theapplication shall set forth, with reasonable particularity, factors supportingthe application. The superior court shall have jurisdiction to issue suchorders. Actions brought pursuant to this section shall be set down for immediatehearing, and subsequent proceedings in such actions shall be accorded priorityby the appellate courts. After the court has reviewed the specific findings andinformation, in camera, the court shall issue an order compelling disclosureunless the court finds that one or more of the circumstances in subsection (d)of this section exist.

(f)         Access to criminalinvestigative reports and criminal intelligence information of public lawenforcement agencies and confidential information in the possession of theState Child Fatality Prevention Team, the local teams, and the Child FatalityTask Force, shall be governed by G.S. 132‑1.4 and G.S. 7B‑1413respectively. Nothing herein shall be deemed to require the disclosure orrelease of any information in the possession of a district attorney.

(g)        Any public agencyor its employees acting in good faith in disclosing or declining to discloseinformation pursuant to this section shall be immune from any criminal or civilliability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed for such action.

(h)        Nothing hereinshall be deemed to narrow or limit the definition of "public records"as set forth in G.S. 132‑1(a). (1997‑459, s. 1; 1998‑202,s. 6.)